clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

CHN Staff Corner: What’s Newcastle’s Best XI for the Premier League’s Restart?

Our Staff gives their opinions on what lineup Steve Bruce should go with when the Premier League restarts

Arsenal FC v Newcastle United - Premier League
Who ate all the pizza rolls?
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

The Return of Premier League football is only 2 weeks away, and our staff wanted to give our takes on how we think Steve Bruce should set up the team. Give it a read and give us your thoughts! Who had the best potential lineup? Who had the worst?Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter!

Bryan Nelson

Formation 4-2-3-1

Lineup: Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Shelvey, M. Longstaff, Lazaro, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

I have chosen a 4-2-3-1. It isn’t my favorite formation, however, I think it best uses the talent that Newcastle United has at its disposal. Also, if the takeover goes through, this formation is Bruce’s best bet at showing he can use players to their strengths.

I won’t lie, I considered screwing up my squad specifically to annoy Elijah, but here goes a serious lineup take. Manquillo is a solid right-back for me, and admirably gets the job done. Yedlin has speed but is more unreliable if the team is on the counterattack, Manquillo wins there. Schar and Lascelles are no-brainers at the CB position for me, Schar provides offense at critical moments, and Lascelles remains extremely reliable. I think Dummett will be healthy and fit for the coming matches, and I rate him higher than Danny Rose (come at me).

My midfield I struggled with Hayden and Longstaff, but I really like having Longstaff in the starting XI and maybe Hayden as a substitute. Knowing Lazaro as an Inter fan, there’s no one I’d put ahead of him in the lineup, and I think he’s going to complement both Almiron and ASM in terms of creativity and natural ability. These three players will make up for the lack of production of Joelinton, who needs to step back into a role of a playmaking number nine with Miggy taking control in the middle as a 10.

Graeme Bell

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Lineup:Dubravka, Manquillo, Schär, Lascelles, Rose, Shelvey, Hayden, Lazaro, Almirón, Saint - Maximin, Carroll (if ever fit)

I have chosen to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation as I think it has a great balance to it. There is no doubt who gets to start in goal, pretty sure everyone will have Dubravka.

Manquillo starts over Yedlin for me, in my opinion the Spaniard is underrated and underappreciated. He has performed consistently well of late and I feel he offers more than Yedlin. Danny Rose gets the nod in the other fullback position, if his head is right and keeps fit, he is the strongest option for this position.

The two centre halves are tricky to pick as this is the strongest position in the whole side. I have paired Schär with Lascelles as they complement each other very well.

Shelvey and Hayden are a great partnership in the middle of midfield, Sean Longstaff has gone off the boil of late and I feel Hayden and Shelvery have a better understanding when playing alongside each other.

Lazaro, Almirón and Saint-Maximin play behind Carroll. The trio behind the striker can create a great deal of chances and I feel if Carroll can stay fit, he gets the nod over Joelinton. The reason being, Carroll’s hold up play is a lot better than Joelinton’s and he gets into the box a lot more, which poses more of an attacking threat.

Chris Lovell

Formation: 4-4-2

Line up: Dubrakva, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernández, Rose, Lazaro, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin, Almirón, Gayle

I’ve gone for 4-4-2 which is how Bruce has set us up over the last three games and we’ve earned 2 wins and a draw, which is a decent return. At centre-back it’s Lascelles and Fernandez. I do think Schär is the better all-round player, but Lascelles and Fernández are a safer bet with our current squad when playing four at the back. Rose is a no-brainer at left-back if he’s fit and, for me, Manquillo is our best right-back option.

In the middle of the park I’ve gone with Shelvey and Hayden - Shelvey is our top scorer this season and our best passer, whereas Hayden provides the legs and is an excellent tackler. Out wide it’s Lazaro on the right instead of Ritchie as he has more pace. I also want the Austrian to prove his worth before the end of the season, as I do think he’d be a good addition to the squad. On the left-wing it’s obviously got to be ASM who is our best attacking outlet.

Miggy slots into the number 10 role just behind the striker – his pace and skill are better utilised through the middle rather than out wide in my opinion. I still believe that Joelinton will get better but, right now, the team just isn’t set up to get the best out of him, so I’ve chosen Dwight Gayle instead. Yes, he missed a couple of sitters against Southampton, but the fact he got into those dangerous positions show he has more of the striker’s instinct than the Brazilian. I wouldn’t bet against him scoring a few goals before the end of the season given the same opportunities again.

Southampton FC v Newcastle United - Premier League
Dwight Gayle missed a few chances in Newcastle’s last match against Southampton
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Mirza Usman Baig

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Lineup: Dubravka,Manquillo, Lascelles, Schär, Dummett, Hayden, Shelvey, Lazaro, Almirón, ASM, Joelinton

Nearing the usual safety target of 40 points, it is time for Steve Bruce to start looking forward if he wants any hope of staying at the club if the takeover goes through. Newcastle United has the players needed to play a more attacking brand of football, and contrary to earlier showings this season, our defenders are more than capable of maintaining a coordinated defensive system with four at the back.

The 4-2-3-1 is a versatile formation that allows Newcastle to have numbers in attack and the option to hunker down in defense. Most importantly, this formation is far more suited to our record signing Joelinton. He isn’t a traditional target #9 and therefore needs players close by for link-up play. The major benefit of this formation is that it allows Newcastle to field three attack-minded midfielders high up the pitch to provide adequate support to Big Joe.

Additionally, in this formation, Almirón finally gets to play as a traditional No. 10, a position he excelled in overseas. Further, continuing with this attacking emphasis, Shelvey and Schär get the nods in their respective departments thanks to their propensity to play forward passes. Hayden, best known for his defensive solidity, is paired with Shelvey to provide balance in the engine room.

Rounding out the XI, Manquillo gets the nod at right-back for his improved displays prior to the pause in play. Finally, Dummett gets the nod at left-back to cover Newcastle’s bases when in the team attacks and afford Allan Saint-Maximin optimal space on the left to operate.

Andy Hayes

Formation: 5-2-2-1

Lineup: Dubravka,Ritchie,Fernandez, Lascelles, Schär, Lazaro, Hayden, Shelvey, Almirón, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

I’m a believer in playing to your strengths and our strength is in central defence so I’d stick with the three at the back. Our weakness is our centre forward, with Joelinton seriously struggling for goals and the fitness of the back ups as reliable as a Barnard Castle eye test. Ritchie gets the left side as I’ve seen nothing from Rose offensively or defensively since he came up North. The lad looks like he can’t be bothered, which is the exact opposite of what you get from the mad lad. Lazaro gets the nod over Manquillo and Yedlin as they’ve had plenty chances and neither has really impressed. This formation needs the wide players to be decent on the ball with a good cross on them and from what little I’ve seen of Lazaro, he edges it in that department. Shelvey and Hayden is a no-brainer in the middle. Bentaleb hasn’t impressed me at all and the Longstaffs both look like they need to go on loan to The Championship for a year. Shelvey’s passing is hit and miss but he’s the only one capable of forward key passes and Hayden is invaluable. The idea of playing Almirón and ASM centrally is that the three CBs plus Hayden should allow the wing backs to advance high up the pitch and provide the width. Almirón and ASM’s talents lie in their pace and dribbling and I’d like to see the two of them have a free central role and basically go wherever they want. Their pace and direct style should create problems for central defenders and overload that central midfield area where I feel we’ve been exposed a lot this season. In addition, I think playing them wide isn’t very effective when their sole central target to cross to is the guy with one goal. The three forward players could all switch roles throughout the game, allowing Joelinton to come deeper and one of the others to take the advanced role. It’s a formation and system we haven’t tried yet but when your one forward doesn’t score, you need to be creative!

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United - FA Cup Fifth Round
Almiron - A player best served centrally
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Elijah Newsome

Formation: 4-4-2

Lineup: Dubravka, Rose, Schär, Lascelles, Manquillo, Lazaro, Hayden, Shelvey, Allan-Saint Maximin, Almirón, Joelinton

The 4-4-2 Newcastle played against West Brom resulted in the best offensive performance I had seen from Newcastle all season. Steve Bruce mostly got his tactics right in that match. There are a couple of changes I would make to slightly improve his 4-4-2 that I hope he rolls out when the Premier League resumes.

Obviously Dubravka is in goal for me. He once again has been Newcastle’s best player this season, and it is insane that his greatness has not been recognized by the national media. The back line of Rose, Schär, Lascelles and Manquilllo is the same back line Brucie rolled out in the West Brom match and it worked. Regardless in a back 4 I believe this is our best back line. Manquillo and Rose venture forward just enough to help the attack, but often track back to help out defensively. The pairing of Lascelles and Schär in the middle is a wonderful CB combination because while both are solid defensively, Schär is excellent at joining into the attack and Lascelles is great at staying as far away from the attack as possible.

The midfield pairing in the middle of the pitch is wear I differ from the gaffer. Hayden and Shelvey are our best midfield pair, so they should be starting. Bentaleb and Longstaff are two players who have struggled this season and should never start together ever again. Lazaro and ASM are on the wings for me because they are pretty damn good at it. It turns out playing Lazaro at his preferred right midfield position yields success for the player. Wow! Who would’ve thought?

Up top we have Miggy and Joelinton. Joelinton has looked his best either out on the wing or with another striker. The big Brazilian has struggled being the only striker having to deal with opposing center backs and in this set up I would love for him and Almirón to work together and wreak havoc. Both are much better as central play makers and in this formation I would love for them to trade off that responsibility. While one drops off to help in the build up the other tries to get into a decent goal scoring position. This gets the best out of both players and should make it easier for both of them to live up to their potential.

Cameron Johnson

Formation: 4-3-2-1

Lineup: Dubravka, Rose, Fernandez, Lascelles, Manquillo, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint Maximin, Almirón, Ritchie, Joelinton

I wouldn’t mind if Schär took Fernandez’s spot, but Lascelles and Ritchie should be on the pitch because of how they help defensively and their intensity. Hayden does a solid job and we will be looking for stability in the last games of this season. Still trying to stay up. Need a few draws and a win or two at least. Joelinton up top because maybe he has adjusted by now and he’s gonna come out of Covid break a killer. Joelinton wanting to prove to potential new owners that he is good enough to stay.

I went with a 4-2-3-1 because while it is important not to ship a ton of goals in a relegation fight, it would be nice to have a threat to score. We could set up to draw five matches 0-0, but why? Let Allan cook.

Southampton FC v Newcastle United - Premier League
Let Allan Cook!
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Zack Pensak

Formation: 5-3-2/3-4-3

Lineup: Dubravka, Dummett, Lascelles, Fernandez, Schär, Manquillo, Allan Saint-Maximin, Shelvey, M. Longstaff, Almirón, Joelinton

Zack Pensak

I went a bit outside the box when constructing my ideal Newcastle starting XI for the remaining fixtures of this season.

On paper it is a 5-3-2 formation, starting with the now-fit Dubravka in goal and a halfback trio of Lascelles-Fernandez-Schär. Paul Dummett and Javier Manquillo fit in as wingbacks, pushing forward on attacks but staying diligent in keeping their defensive shape.

The midfield is where it gets a tad unorthodox. Saint-Maximin would line up in a left-central attacking midfield position, but with instruction to drift out wide to a more traditional winger role. To account for this, Shelvey, who would be starting in an RAM position, would drop back to play alongside Matty Longstaff.

Up top, Joelinton would be supported by Miggy Almirón, who would be playing in the hole in an advanced #10 role. Along with ASM on the left, they would create a non-traditional front three with the Paraguayan playing off the shoulder of his Brazilian teammate.

In conclusion, the formation would be fluid, shaped as either a 5-3-2 in more defensive situations, or 3-4-3 when attacking.


These are our lineups, but we definitely want to hear how you would set up the team. LEt us know in the comments your suggested XI!